Marijuana has been decriminalized in New York City for a few years now—you know that because there's a mural of Alvin the Chipmunk getting insanely high inside your bodega, which now also sells an assortment of “CBD” flower and candies with allegedly enough THC contained within to sedate an elephant.
On Thursday, President Joe Biden, drug warrior prince, announced that he was taking steps to decriminalize marijuana—first with the pardons of 6,500 people convicted of simple marijuana possession, and then by instructing the Department of Health and Human Services to begin a review of marijuana for possible descheduling under the Controlled Substances Act, thereby perhaps ending the federal prohibition on recreational use of the drug. While the pardons fall drastically short of real relief—they will impact no one currently in jail or prison, have no real impact on non-citizens or legal permanent residents, and won't stop judges from sending people on probation back to jail for smoking weed—it signals a gargantuan shift in U.S. drug policy.
Still, this is just the beginning of winding down the drug war—Biden's Department of Justice still continues to ask for mandatory minimum sentences in federal court for drug importation, and it's currently undertaking a "review" of supervised injection sites like the ones successfully operating, and saving lives, in New York. There are still many levers it can pull in reducing mass incarceration and ending the drug war—a useless exercise that has ripped apart communities in New York City for generations.
This Friday, let's pass the links on the left hand side:
- The contentious Bruckner Rezoning is poised to pass after the local councilmember signed off on the project. The very small rezoning in the Bronx (which only applies to a few parcels and 349 new apartments) had become a proxy battle over the construction of new housing in low-density neighborhoods across the city, and whether city council would continue to follow the “member deference” rule on new rezonings. Ultimately, the Adams administration, and YIMBYs, prevailed over organized local opposition. The apartments will include over 200 units set aside for low-income families, seniors, or veterans.
- We’re one step closer to having new city council maps, just a few days after a commission had confusingly voted its own maps down after Mayor Adams interfered. After some very minor changes, the new maps, which will lead to another round of city council elections this coming June, sailed through the commission, and are now ready to pass through a vote of the full council.
- Now explain to us why the photo of these mapmakers goes so hard: